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Due to its history in most companies as a Web, file, and database server, Linux doesn’t have many large business packages. Even so, you will find quite a few options should you want to use Linux throughout your organization.

Running your business on Linux isn’t as hard as you’d think. Due to its history in most companies as a Web, file, and database server, Linux doesn’t have as many large business packages as are available for other platforms. Even so, you will find quite a few options should you want to use Linux throughout your organization. And you’ll find you are not alone as more and more companies switch to Linux to save money and avoid restrictive licensing issues. Linux makes many users feel like they are in charge, since your organization is no longer beholden to any single vendor.

Commercial vendors haven’t ignored the rising popularity of Linux either. For example, SAP’s mySAP Business Suite on Linux has been available since 1999. Other vendors, such as Anteil, have released their CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, software for free, in an attempt to sell related services.

Among the free packages, AVSAP provides accounting software. GnuCash aims to manage personal finances, but it can work for small businesses, too. NOLA provides a business accounting system. The low-end version is free. C-CTB, or GNU ConTaBilidad, provides a desktop-based accounting package. The documentation is in Spanish, though.

Web-ERP provides ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning, functions with a Web user interface. Lefthand combines ERP and accounting functions.

Compiere provides both ERP and CRM functions, allowing you to run most aspects of your business on Linux. Compiere runs on Java J2EE application server software such as WebSphere, WebLogic, and JBoss. JBoss is free, while WebSphere and WebLogic are commercial products. Another Java package is the Lazy8 Ledger, a ledger-based accounting system for small businesses. SQL-Ledger provides a double entry accounting system backed by a database.

All the major commercial databases run on Linux, such as as Oracle and DB2. In addition to these commercial products, Linux provides free industrial-strength relational databases with MySQL and Postgres.

These packages are all general-purpose applications. You can also find some very specific packages such as Prepaid Accounting for those running an Internet cafe, and OSRAIDS, which creates PDF documents for billing for service and consulting businesses.

Claus Sorensen maintains a list of a number of these packages.

Disaster aid

Mountain View, Calif.-based SteelEye recently released LifeKeeper for Linux, a software application that ensures the continuous availability of applications by maintaining system uptime. LifeKeeper maintains the high availability of clustered Linux systems by monitoring system and application health, maintaining client connectivity and providing uninterrupted data access regardless whether clients are on a corporate Internet, intranet, or extranet.

To facilitate automatic system and application recovery, LifeKeeper allows applications to failover to other servers in the cluster. This helps LifeKeeper minimize the risk of a single point of failure and allows Linux systems to be available to mission-critical operations by being more resilient in the face of potentially hazardous faults.

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